This vegetable compartment carry along tray has been one of my most favorite recent purchases. I just LOVE IT! I was keeping cut up vegetables in mason jars in my refrigerator, and they were pretty and great for creating salads, but I didn’t like that I had to grab one at a time, open all the lids, grab the dip and then set them out for the kids to eat. Too many steps, and I found we were not eating raw veggies as often as I liked.
I thought about how my girls devour their raw veggies when we are at parties with veggie trays. I thought about why that is, and a light bulb went off as I figured figured out a few reasons why that is.
1. Easy to grab veggies.
2. Dip right there ready to go.
3. It is pretty
4. It is convenient.
5. They can choose the veggies they like and leave the rest.
I decided to search Amazon and the perfect vegetable tray, one with an area in the middle for dip, and one with a lid so I could store it in the refrigerator easily.
I found this one. The perfect one. I love it. It is easy to clean, easy to carry, easy to snap the lid right on and take it off. It is not too tall to fit on my refrigerator shelf. It takes up a bit of refrigerator space but boy, it is worth it! What else would I want taking up space in my refrigerator other than healthy, beautiful vegetables ?
I pull it out every afternoon when the kids walk in from school and set it out on our table. They come by, grab a veggie and gobble them up. If it is out and in sight, with dip available, they will eat their vegetables.
I fill it at the beginning of the week and usually once more mid week. I love grabbing it when making a dinner salad and adding veggies that are already chopped or just need a bit more chopping. So easy!
The handle on it is a plus. I have grabbed it and gone to the park and taken it to my inlaws pool house. The perfect healthy snack that is always ready to grab and go!
Square foot gardening is one of the BEST projects I have ever done. I cannot tell you how much joy it is to grow fresh herbs and vegetables with minimal amount of work! I have two, 4×2 feet garden beds along the side of my home. It is the only place other than our front yard that gets enough sun, so we were limited, but thanks to square foot gardening I can still grow an abundance of organic food for our family!
I built these beds 3 years ago, other than the initial work of building the beds and mixing “Mel’s Mix” (the KEY to square foot gardening & my gardening success), square foot gardening is one of the easiest things I have done. There is next to NO weeding. Watering is minimal as the Mel’s soil mix absorbs and retains moisture, and the only thing I do each season is add one bag of compost to each bed at before planting.
Impressive results, huh? Every year the garden has performed beautifully and I have just had a ball with it. Right now I am harvesting the sweetest tomatoes, lots of herbs, and patty pan squash. My banana peppers are about a week away from harvest. I will be going to my local garden center and buying some kale starter plants for a cool fall harvest, as we live in Nebraska and the time is right.
I’ve been eating tomato sandwiches, making fresh marina sauce, and eating lots of tomatoes on toast (my version of bruschetta.) I even have enough to share with neighbors. I’ve just started a Tomatoes! board on Pinterest that has lots of great ideas, so check that out if you, too, have an abundance of tomatoes.
=== by Meghan Newsom Health & Gluten Free Recipes Contributor
It’s no secret that it’s expensive to eat well. It’s even more expensive if you are on a strict gluten free diet. The thing I hear most from friends and family as to why they don’t put better food inside their body is because it’s just too expensive.
While eating an organic plant-based diet IS a bit more expensive than the normal American diet, I have found lots of tricks to keeping our grocery budget low while still being able to enjoy a healthy whole foods diet in our home.
These 6 tricks to eating well on a tight budget have helped our family, and I know it will help yours as well!
1. PLAN PLAN PLAN!- Always plan ahead of time. Know what you are going to eat each night for dinner, and plan for lunches and breakfasts as well. While you are planning your menu, keep a piece of paper beside you to jot down specific items you will need from the grocery store. Take an inventory of your pantry as well and jot down any staple items you will need to re-stock for the week.
2. Budget– With our household, we keep a strict budget to keep us on track. We pay for things in cash and this really helps me not overspend when I go to the grocery store (since it’s the only place we are really allowed to spend money!). Taking cash with me helps me know that I’ve got to be extremely mindful of what I put into my shopping cart. It’s kind of embarrassing when you get to the check-out and you don’t have enough money to pay for everything!
3. Keep Staples On Hand- This little tip has helped me eliminate about $20 dollars a week from our budget. I keep brown rice, quinoa, dried beans, sushi rice, lentils and gluten free pasta on hand. By buying these items in bulk when our budget allows for it, I always have “filler” items for times when our budget runs out. Notice that I said DRIED BEANS instead of CANNED BEANS. Buying dried beans and cooking them in the crockpot then freezing them saves our family so much money. I also love that I know exactly what goes into our beans- just beans!! (no preservatives from the cans).
4. Make Your Own Snacks- Instead of buying processed, pre-packaged foods, I always make our own snacks. I make our own granola bars, pop our own popcorn and make our own “ice cream”. Whenever we have deserts, I either buy a Bob’s Red Mill mix that is on sale at Big Lots! OR make my own. The only pre-packaged snacks we buy are high-protein granola bars for my husband’s bike rides.
5. Produce- There are several ways to save on produce, and none of them involve shopping at a health food store or even your local grocery store. We have saved money by joining a local CSA, shopping at farmers markets (the best time to do this is when they are closing down and the farmers want to get rid of their produce), and recently shopping at locally owned grocery stores. There is a store in our area that sales only organic produce that they buy off of farmers at farmers markets. We are able to get a HUGE box of produce that will last us 2 weeks for only $35.00. I have several friends who are able to save money at co-ops as well as costco.
6. Stay Away From Pre-Packaged Foods– This little tip is especially helpful when you are on a gluten free diet. Gluten Free packaged foods are a lot more expensive than their gluten-contaning counterparts. When you can, stay away from prepackaged foods and opt to make your own. I do this in our home by making our own dressings, our own popcorn, french fries, salads etc. There are some prepackaged foods that are staples in our home like cereals and condiments. But, as a general rule pre-packaged foods can really add onto your grocery bill.
Do you have any tried-and-true ways you help your family save money on your grocery budget? We’d love to hear your ideas!